Ontario building a low-carbon future

Many governments, at the city-, state- and national-level, have implemented technology challenges to spur the private sector in scaling-up game-changing green technologies that increase resource efficiency, lower water and energy usage and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the latest green technology challenges has been issued by Ontario.

Ontario’s 2030 Solutions Challenge

Ontario’s 2030 Solutions Challenge is an international competition designed to accelerate the commercialization of game-changing technologies for reducing GHG emissions in Ontario by 2030.

The Challenge will support the development of next-generation ideas that reduce GHG emissions for Ontario’s manufacturing and industrial sectors, with the overall goal of positioning Ontario as a global leader in building a low-carbon future.

With up to $7 million in funding, including $3 million to support the winning team in bringing their transformative technology to the market, the Challenge asks teams and industry to collaborate and envision a future that tackles climate change in Ontario and around the world.

Ontario building a low-carbon future

Ontario building a low-carbon future

Ontario’s 2030 Solutions Challenge phases

The Challenge is a three-phase competition over three years that is designed to identify and accelerate the development of technologies that have a high potential to help Ontario’s industry meet the province’s goal of reducing GHG emissions by 37% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Eligible technologies can include, but are not limited to:

  • Carbon capture and sequestration or conversion
  • New feedstocks for industrial processes or combustion
  • New, more efficient processes and/or production methods
  • New products from carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases
  • Fleet management
  • Any other technology with the potential to achieve large, measurable GHG reductions by industrial and/or manufacturing facilities in Ontario

Eligible technologies should have the potential market in Ontario with a combined GHG footprint greater than 500,000 t CO2eq/year total and have the capacity for cross-sectoral implementation.

Phase 1 – Concept

In Phase 1, the Challenge applications will be evaluated on the concept and description of their proposed technology and plan to market. The technology should be proven and the team should have a vision for large-scale implementation by 2030. All entries will be evaluated based on the Challenge assessment criteria (Table 1.). The winners of Phase 1 will be announced in January 2018 with the top 8 teams invited to participate in Phase 2. Each winning team will be awarded $250,000 for participation costs.

Phase 2 – Prototype

In Phase 2, the Challenge applications will be evaluated on the results from the development of a lab-scale technology prototype in a controlled environment and the team’s vision to scale their technology to reduce GHG emissions by Ontario industry by 2030. All entries will be evaluated based on the Challenge assessment criteria (Table 1.). The winners will be announced in Spring 2019 with the top 4 teams invited to participate in Phase 3 with each team receiving an award of $750,000 to support participation costs.

Phase 3 – Demonstration

In Phase 3, the Challenge teams will be required to demonstrate their technology in partnership with an organization that has an industrial or manufacturing presence in Ontario. The grand prize will be awarded based on technology performance and the team’s technology commercialization plan, with all entries evaluated on the Challenge assessment criteria (Table 1.). In the Fall of 2020, the winner will be announced with the top team awarded $3 million to commercialize their technology in Ontario.

Table1. Ontario’s 2030 Solutions Challenge Criteria

Assessment Criteria Description
Does the technology represent a transformative/game changing solution with respect to greenhouse gas reductions? Is the technology novel in its approach to GHG reduction for the target sector or just an incremental improvement of existing practices? Has the technology, or a similar technology, been implemented elsewhere in the world to solve the same industry pain point? Would a demonstration of the technology in Ontario be a global “first”?
Does the technology have the capacity for cross-sectoral implementation? Has the team appropriately identified potential customer segments in Ontario? Can the technology address the GHG reduction needs of a diverse group of facilities in Ontario?
Does the technology have global market potential? What is the potential to deploy the technology outside of the Ontario market? Is the potential market growing internationally?
Does the technology have the potential to generate economic and environmental benefits? Does the technology achieve GHG reduction goals without compromising the environmental quality of life of Ontario residents, including air, soil and water quality? Does it result in additional social or environmental benefits? Does the technology have the potential to produce jobs and/or manufacturing opportunities in Ontario? Does the technology have the potential to increase the competitiveness of Ontario industrial sector in international markets?
Does the technology have overall scientific and technical merit? Is the proposed technological solution based on sound science and engineering? What has been done to validate the technology to date?
Is the technology economically sustainable (measured as cost/ton of GHG abated, reduction in carbon intensity, ability to increase competitiveness and/ or decrease costs of business operations, etc.) How do the capital and operating costs per ton GHG reduction compare to other technologies entered in the Challenge? What is the value of potential by-products? Are estimates reasonable?
Do team members have the capabilities and experience required to be successful? Do team members have experience in the technological area being proposed? Do team members have experience in business development and technology commercialization? What can other support and/or networks the team leverage to ensure success?
Has the team proposed a realistic plan and budget for execution? Is the plan feasible within the given timeline? Are proposed expenses reasonable and justified?
Has the team proposed a reasonable approach to proof-of-concept and prototype demonstration? What are the project timelines and scope of work? Is the proposed plan based on sound science? Does the proposed plan build on work already done by the team in previous phases of the Challenge?

The take-out

Technology challenges encourage the private sector to push the envelope on what is possible in reducing GHG emissions.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), and of the forthcoming titles Blue and Green Cities (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan). He is Founder of Mitidaption, which consults on climate change risks to business, governance and society.

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